University News

SUU Students Partner with 4-H to Aid At Risk Teens

Published: December 11, 2008 | Category: Community Outreach

Southern Utah University has joined up with the local 4-H to lend its service-oriented student body to assist and inspire at-risk teens struggling in local schools.

The project, Youth and Families with Promise (YFP), is an afterschool program that targets at risk teens and matches them with volunteer mentors who help them with homework and life skills. This year's current mentor crop is composed almost exclusively of SUU students.

Among the 24 students is Jessica Trujillo, a senior Psychology major from Tooele, Utah, who called the experience "absolutely rewarding." And although the class will soon be complete for her, Trujillo plans to participate again next semester, "I have had the privilege of seeing the students I have worked with grow and progress in amazing ways -- I have seen a young woman come out of her shell, give the (SUU) ropes course a full effort, and really see her apply that same kind of newfound courage to her studies." Trujillo also noted the young woman's grades have improved, and says the greatest reward has been the "look on her face and in her eyes."

Also serving as a mentor, SUU Junior Taylor Bentley, an English major from Lindon, Utah, plans on becoming a teacher and felt the YFP program would be a "perfect" fit to his future career. "The opportunity to give positive reinforcement and see that come to fruition is so rewarding. There is such a joy in seeing a student succeed or improve when others have given them the message or when they themselves think they cannot."

Pam Branin, SUU's Coordinator of Service and Learning, has nothing but accolades for the program, calling it a "unique and wonderful partnership" that has proved beneficial to the at risk teens, their families and the SUU students participating in the mentoring. "It has been a real opportunity for the students to get a hands-on experience in service work," she added.

Jeremy Christiansen, the Site Coordinator in Cedar City for YFP, said the involvement of SUU students and the access to the University's facilities has been instrumental in the success of the program. "Having access to the school's ropes course and climbing wall has been a huge hit with the teens to get active and has provided the opportunity to learn real, meaningful leadership and trust building skills."

Both Bentley and Trujillo recommend the program to anyone looking for a great service opportunity. "It is an easy way to get out and help people who need it and to serve in a more relaxed way than other more formal opportunities I have found - plus, it's a lot of fun," added Bentley

The program is located at Canyon View Middle School, and will start again on January 5, 2009.

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